Four Winds Casino is about to become a gambling hotspot in northern Indiana.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi is on the verge of securing Class III gaming for the South Bend Casino.
That would make Four Winds a full-fledged competitor of the rest of the state’s casinos.
Four Winds adding slots, table games
So what exactly is Class III gaming? It’s basically everything that comes to mind when you think of a typical casino experience.
Right now, Four Winds only offers games where gamblers play against each other, rather than against the house.
Its current slot-machine lookalikes are really a type of electronic bingo. Those machines, pull tabs, and poker are the only types of gambling at the casino.
Class III gaming would change that by allowing real slot machines and table games like blackjack.
Four Winds Casino Indiana taxes
The gambling expansion has been a long time coming for Four Winds.
The Tribe submitted a request to Gov. Holcomb to start the process back in August 2019.
Since then, negotiations have gone back and forth between the state and the Tribe. Federal law requires that both sides iron out a tribal-state compact, so that’s what’s been taking so much time to finalize.
Next up, the compact needs to be ratified by the Indiana General Assembly, which is currently in session.
Since tribal casinos operate on sovereign land, they can’t be taxed by the state like typical casinos.
However, Indiana might require taxation in exchange for Class III gaming. That likely wouldn’t stop the Tribe from moving forward with this, since it would still be more profitable for them in the long run.
The Tribe has already agreed to an 8% tax rate of its annual slot machine revenue. For the sake of comparison, the Four Winds locations in Michigan pay the state 6% of their slot revenue.
Blue Chip Casino competition
Assuming that the compact goes through without a hitch, Four Winds will become a new competitor in Indiana’s casino market.
Due to its position in South Bend, Four Winds could dominate the gambling scene in northeast Indiana.
Casinos further west might see a drop in business thanks to the Tribe’s expansion.
That specifically applies to Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, which is about 45 minutes west of Four Winds. With a closer option nearby, gamblers in South Bend and other northeast areas might not be as willing to make a longer drive to visit Blue Chip.
With Four Winds staking its claim to that chunk of the market, gamblers throughout Indiana will have a casino nearby regardless of where they live in the state.
Property will include a sportsbook
Another interesting part of the Class III compact allows Four Winds to open its own sportsbook.
That’s likely going to happen since the other Four Winds locations in Michigan already have their own sportsbook operations.
However, don’t expect Four Winds to partner up with an online sportsbook.
Online betting apps have to have a retail casino partner in Indiana before they can open for business.
The compact between the Tribe and the state will prevent that from happening at Four Winds.
Under the agreement, internet gambling can only take place on the property. In other words, even if Four Winds launches an online sportsbook, you’ll only be able to use it if you’re at the casino.
That pretty much kills the idea, since you might as well just use the casino’s retail sportsbook if you already need to be there to place your bets.
That same rule also applies to online casino games. Online casinos are not legal in Indiana yet, but that could be changing soon.
So even though Class III gaming is a big step forward for Four Winds, the Tribe will still be a few steps behind the rest of the state when it comes to online gaming.